Matt Simpson '12 Helps U.S. Goalball Team to Silver Medal
Folks around Washington and Lee may have been unfamiliar with the sport of goalball until Matt Simpson came to town, five years ago. The Atlanta native and 2012 graduate helped change that. Matt has competed on the U.S. National Goalball team since his undergraduate days, and he’s continued playing since graduation.
Matt is visually impaired, and goalball is a sport for blind and visually impaired athletes. It was developed in Austria to rehabilitate veterans who were blinded during World War II. The three-person teams try to roll a ball past each other into a net. All players wear blindfolds.
In addition to being a member of the team, Matt is now the membership and outreach coordinator. He was featured in a story about the competition in The Gazette of Colorado Springs, where the team was competing in the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) 2013 Pan American Games last month.
After failing to qualify for the London Paralympics, the U.S. men’s team is hoping to get a spot in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Asked before the tournament about the team’s goals, Matt told The Gazette: “We’re really focused on Rio, for sure.” He added that their performance at the Pan American Games would serve as “a barometer for how well we’re doing since they were second in London.”
After a 9-9 tie in the first game, with Brazil, the team that kept them from the London Paralympics, the U.S. team ran off six dominating wins to make to the gold medal game, where it lost to Canada 8-6. Their silver medal performance earned them a spot in the IBSA 2014 World Goalball Championships, in Finland.
Stay tuned to see if Matt and his teammates can make it to Rio in 2016.